Latin students celebrate Roman God Saturn in Saturnalia

Students gather to showcase Latin culture throughout Schreiber


Jack Lawrence

Latin students including junior Caroline Williams and senior Daniel Hart compete in wheel barrel event while dressed in their togas at Saturnalia.

Talya Pecullan, Contributing Writer

Saturnalia is an ancient Roman holiday dedicated to Saturn and is celebrated by Latin
students every year. The holiday was originated from archaic agricultural rituals from the god
Saturn. In Ancient Rome, Saturnalia was the most celebrated holiday of the year that initially
took place during the winter solstice; however, it was later extended to be a three-day
celebration, and eventually, a seven day celebration.
During Saturnalia, Roman businesses, courts, and schools all closed for the holiday.
Romans put wreaths on their homes and wore colorful clothing called synthesis instead of their
typical togas. In certain households, the slaves sat at the head of the table while their master
served them. During Saturnalia, Romans also gambled, sang, played music, and exchanged
The Temple of Saturn was the main place for the traditional Saturnalia rituals. Saturnalia
is the basis for Christmas today; it was absorbed by Christmas, and many of the traditions that
were celebrated during Saturnalia are now celebrated during Christmas such as singing, lighting
candles, hanging wreaths, and giving gifts.
Every year, students taking Latin look forward to celebrating Saturnalia in the middle of
December. Saturnalia took place on Dec. 12 this year, and many students came together to
appreciate and celebrate the ancient Roman culture.
“Saturnalia is an awesome event where Latin students, teachers, and administrators get
the opportunity to embrace their love for Classics and explore Latin in a fun way. I look forward
to it every year, and this is my last one,” said senior Ashley O’Neill.
Each year, the celebration is centered around a different theme; the theme for this year
was Mario Kart. Every Latin class had the opportunity to vote on a character from Mario Kart to
then be paired with a Roman god or goddess. Then, each class prepared for the celebration by
painting a banner representing their character and incorporating their Roman god or goddess of
choice. Students also had to come up with a catchy slogan in Latin to present on their banner.
“Our class’s banner depicted dry bowser. We worked very hard last week to draw out
our image and then paint it. It definitely took a lot of collaboration and patience,” said junior
Jeremy Silberg.
Every student wore a toga to the event, and there were students in charge of tying togas
for others since they are difficult to put on. During Saturnalia, a variety of events took place
such as musical chairs, chariot racing, a toga catwalk, and the limbo. The night started off with
the chariot racing game. After a great deal of competitive spirit, the sophomores ended up
winning. Then, after dinner, the students played musical chairs. The sophomores ended up
winning that too after an intense battle for the last seat. After that was the toga catwalk. Shortly
after the catwalk, the juniors danced to “Take a Hint” from Victorious and won. The sophomores
also ended up winning the award for having the best banner.
Saturnalia remains to be not only an enjoyable event but an educational one as well, as
students from all grades experience life as it was back in Ancient Rome.